From the moment I stepped off the bus and into Camp for my very first summer, I felt the intense value and importance which Camp places on its connection to Israel, a connection instilled in each and every camper, summer after summer.
Each summer, I looked forward to the opportunity to meet the Mishlachat (Israeli counselors) and attend the different Ivrit chuggim (Hebrew activities). Not a day of Camp goes by without feeling the presence and recognition which Camp holds for the State of Israel. Whether it’s the integration of Hebrew words into our daily schedule and announcements, Israel themed activities, or singing along to the songs such as Yerushalayim Shel Zahav on Saturday night Sloach (slow singing), every camper leaves with a newfound love for Israel, just as I did each summer. The connections I made with the different Mishlachat I met each summer and the experiences I share each and every summer have truly shaped the love I have grown for Israel.
Not a day of Camp goes by without feeling the presence and recognition which Camp holds for the State of Israel.
As we approach the Jewish month of Iyar, we begin to prepare for Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, and the upcoming celebration of Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel Independence Day. Since the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1948, we, the Jewish people, have been fortunate enough to call Israel our home. The commemoration of Yom Hazikaron serves as a day of recognition for all those who have sacrificed their lives for the existence and continuation of the State of Israel. Immediately following, Israel transitions into a state of happiness as they gather in extreme joy in celebration of the incredible State which is Israel.
Since the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1948, we, the Jewish people, have been fortunate enough to call Israel our home.
In my final summer as a Gesher Camper, my counselor worked to create a new tradition for the Banot (girls) to sing “לשנה הבאה בירושלים,” Next Year in Jerusalem. Not only did the addition of singing these words add something new to our Shabbat dinners at Camp, but this new tradition reminded us of the incredible opportunity which my friends and I had to spend the upcoming summer in Israel on Ramah Israel Seminar. Additionally, these same words, which we sang out at our Pesach Seders this past week, remind us of the dream which we all have – to one day hopefully be in Israel. Although it is not always possible to physically be in Israel, we are reminded each year on Yom Ha’aztmaut of how fortunate we are that the State of Israel exists. The joy and comfort which I feel while spending a Shabbat in Jerusalem is a feeling which I am lucky to have experienced in my life. Similarly, I feel lucky enough to spend summer after summer at Camp, a place that strives each and every day to ensure that every chanich/a knows what it means to hold a special place in their hearts for Israel.
Although it is not always possible to physically be in Israel, we are reminded each year on Yom Ha’aztmaut of how fortunate we are that the State of Israel exists.
As I anticipate my return to Camp this summer, I am excited to once again feel the happiness and love which fills our community each and every day. I strive to bring the sense of community that I feel both in Israel and Camp alike back to my chanichim this summer, in an effort of creating both a summer home and Jewish home for my Camp community.
Alisa Rubinstein, Ramah Service Corps Fellow